Intellectual Property Protection for Software | How to Protect your Software?
Software’s are one of the innovative fields of technology where a graph of advancement has taken a parabolic curve. This profit run business can face devastating effects if they are not protected or secured enough to disable infringers from using it. Different forms of Intellectual property are available along with certain legal means which may be used for the protection of software. Shielding or securing software need not be a sole activity or one-time activity which has been done with respect to protecting a business, but also ensures that it turns to be a tool that enables to bring in new business opportunities, raise funds, provide licensing opportunities, by developing an IP portfolio.
It is evident that software can be protected as one of the important elements of Intellectual property and it can be protected under patent law, copyright law or trademark law as designed by the specific country.
How to Trademark your Software?
Well, if you ask a software developer about Intellectual property protection, one of the first things that may come to his mind is the protection of the name of the software, which may have been unique. In the recent times, a software name was successfully breached by market competitors and as result, its genuine features have been stolen. When a user installs software on a device, in all probability, the computer screen also shows the shortcut to the usage of the software, which is represented by a unique logo or device mark. This unique logo or the name may be infringed by third parties to create confusion in the minds of the customers. Therefore obtaining trademark protection is important. Infringement may not only be from the competitors in the same field but someone who may be in a different field and have a rational use for the same. M2 Software Inc had a software for business management for music and entertainment industry. Post this, Madacy entertainment came up with a division called M2. Though there are common law rights which is present in the Trademark application, the registration of the mark has helped M2 litigate the matter. Therefore, though trademarks may not be on the top of the ladder as far as intellectual property protection is concerned, obtaining a registration becomes mandatory from a business perspective.
How to Copyright your Software?
The software is designed for algorithms or executable codes written in programming language and are most vulnerable to copyright infringement. The potential infringers might actually copy the software code and allow it for public use or use the codes to develop software and market it under a different business name. However, an infringer in many cases shall not copy your codes identically, as there are various elements like comments, variables, etc. which can be easily replaced. Rather, even a small change in library module with the same set of instructions can infringe an original software. Infringers can also use the same code in different programming languages, or by using different libraries or different features of programming language. There is also protection needed to safeguard the different elements related to interface and presentation besides the software library codes either as a literary or artistic work. One needs to be strategic while claiming protection over software under the copyright law. There are various kinds of copyright infringement related to the unlicensed use of software, overuse of software, relicensing, obtaining software fraudulently, counterfeiting, etc More appropriately these acts can hamper business of software organisations. It is imperative to file the copyrights for software in the various forms that are available to obtain the copyright protections and separate filings to establish easy infringement in case of litigation before a court of law. As far as India is concerned, since a software is not patentable per se, it is imperative to file copyright protection which is the best available Intellectual Property protection for the software.
How to Patent your Software?
Patenting software is a serious challenge and if achieved is awards well to the patentee. The patent offices across the world are strict relating to the aspects of abstractness which is mostly found with software patents. Patent filing with respect to software has been amongst the top technology sectors. With the introduction of artificial intelligence, cognitive learning, big data, machine learning technologies, that number is only bound to be growing. The major challenge of getting a patent on software is to counter the abstractness aspect or with respect to that do not disclose any component or mere generic functions of the computer. As far as obtaining software patents in the United States is concerned, the air about abstractness that could reject patent from being granted has been outlined in the judgements of Alice vs. Cls Bank International, along with the previous judgements of Bilski vs. Kappos, and Diamond vs. Dehr which were the cases that decided patent eligibility of software-related inventions. As far as India is concerned, software patent or the computer-related invention, the guidelines issued by the patent office has now made it comparatively easier as compared to the previous guidelines, however, computer programmes as such are patent ineligible. Therefore, it becomes equally important for a business to involve its patent attorney to be involved in the business journey, so that such opportunities are not missed, which may cost severely for your business. Patents are the most important section of an Intellectual property portfolio, which directly translates an asset to overcome competitors in the market and grow business. It is important to have a strategy while filing for the software-related patents. This strategy will help the capturing a market share apart from providing the protection that it requires.
How to prepare Agreements & Contracts for Software Protection?
Agreements and contracts are also necessary to move into business for engagement with consumers, software modules with development with third parties, employee engagement, the agreements between user and developer, Non-disclosure, Non-solicitation, Intellectual Property Licensing or Assignment, etc. It is important to be careful and analytical about using the above-mentioned tools to protect software from being infringed or allow the unauthorised use of the same.